Vietnam is capable of becoming a major exporter of cloth face masks in the world, the governmental portal reported, citing the Ministry of Industry and Trade (MoIT).
According to the MoIT, 50 local garment firms have reported they could produce eight million face masks per day, or around 200 million per month.
The figure would be higher if the production capacity nationwide is taken into account, said the ministry.
Under the growing impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic, face mask production is considered a viable solution for garment companies to maintain operations and offset losses from lower demand for garments.
For face mask production, firms previously had to import antibacterial cloth or chemicals for face mask production. However, companies such as Nam Dinh Silk Textile have now been able to produce antibacterial cloth by sourcing biomaterials domestically.
Local firms, therefore, could raise their production capacity in case of exponential surge in global demand for face masks, said the MoIT.
Given the existing facilities, equipment and workers, the majority of garment firms in Vietnam could swiftly shift to face mask operation. Once the domestic demand is fulfilled, companies could look to foreign markets as face mask remains a scarce item globally.
Under the current regulation, exporters would have to seek the government’s permission for medical face masks exports. Even in this case, companies are allowed to export a maximum of 25% of its output.
“However, in case the pandemic is contained in Vietnam and the demand of face masks in the domestic market is met, the government would ease export restriction on face masks," said a representative of the MoIT.
Despite being considered as essential goods, demand for face masks could drop dramatically if the pandemic is contained, the MoIT warned, suggesting firms should think twice before investing in large-scale capacity of this item in the long term.
The MoIT is actively providing support for local companies in looking for markets for cloth face masks, said the representative.
In a meeting with Hanoi's Party chief Vuong Dinh Hue on April 7, Than Duc Viet, general director of Vietnam’s leading garment firm Garment 10 Corporation, said the company had received an order for 400 million medical masks worth US$52 million, equivalent to 30% of Garment 10’s revenue in 2020, with shipment starting in July.
Meanwhile, a US buyer also ordered 20 million face masks with six-week delivery time and another from Germany ordered two million cloth face masks and six million medical face masks.